The IGOROT People – Bontoc, Ibaloi, Isneg (or Apayao), Kalinga, and Kankanaey

 IGOROT  Bontoc, Ibaloi, Isneg Apayao Kalinga Kankanaey  IGOROT  Bontoc, Ibaloi, Isneg Apayao Kalinga Kankanaey


Inhabiting the rugged terrain of the Cordillera Region of Northern Philippines are six ethno-linguistic tribes known as the Ibaloy, Kankana-ey, Ifugao, Kalinga, Apayao/Isneg, and the Bontoc. They are referred to by a generic term, Igorot, a word coined from the root word, “golot” meaning mountain.  

Unlike most of the Philippines, which were ruled by Spaniards for about four hundred years, the Cordillera region was generally unfazed by Spanish colonization. The Igorot tribes are held together by their common socio-cultural traits as well as their geographic proximity to each other. During pre-Christian Cordillera (and to some extent, the present), the six different tribes shared similar religious beliefs, generally nature-related, and they make proprietary offerings to “anitos” (spirits) as well as to household gods.

 

Cordillera ethnic groups

The Igorots are grouped into six ethno-linguistic groups, the Bontoc, Ibaloi, Isneg (or Apayao), Kalinga, and the Kankanaey. Below are brief descriptions of the Igorot ethnic groups

The Bontoc

 

A Bontoc warrior (c. 1908)

The Bontocs (alternatively spelled Bontok) live on the banks of the Chico River in the Central Mountain Province. They speak the Bontoc language. They formerly practiced head-hunting and had distinctive body tatoos. The Bontoc describe three types of tattoos: The chak-lag′, the tattooed chest of the head taker; pong′-o, the tattooed arms of men and women; and fa′-tĕk, for all other tattoos of both sexes. Women were tattooed on the arms only. In the past, the Bontoc engaged in none of the usual pastimes or games of chance practiced in other areas of the country, but did perform a circular rhythmic dance acting out certain aspects of the hunt, always accompanied by the gang′-sa or bronze gong. There was no singing or talking during the dance drama, but the women took part, usually outside the circumference. It was a serious but pleasurable event for all concerned, including the children.[4] Present-day Bontocs are a peaceful agricultural people who have, by choice, retained most of their traditional culture despite frequent contacts with other groups.

The pre-Christian Bontoc belief system centers on a hierarchy of spirits, the highest being a supreme deity called Lumawig. Lumawig personifies the forces of nature and is the legendary creator, friend, and teacher of the Bontoc. A hereditary class of priests hold various monthly ceremonies for this deity for their crops, the weather, and for healing. The Bontoc also believe in the “anito”—spirits of the dead who must be consulted before anything important is done. Ancestral anitos are invited to family feasts when a death occurs to ensure the well-being of the deceased’s soul.This is by offering some small amount of food to show that they are invited and not forgotten.

The Bontoc social structure used to be centered around village wards (“ato”) containing about 14 to 50 homes. Traditionally, young men and women lived in dormitories and ate meals with their families. This gradually changed with the advent of Christianity. In general, however, it can be said that all Bontocs are very aware of their own way of life and are not overly eager to change.

The Ibaloi

The Ibaloi (also Ibaloy and Nabaloi) are one of the indigenous peoples of the Philippines who live mostly in the southern part of Benguet, located in the Cordillera of northern Luzon. The Ibaloi people were traditionally an agrarian society. Many of the Ibaloi people continue with their agriculture and rice cultivation.

The Ibaloi language belongs to the Malayo-Polynesian branch of the Austronesian languages family. The Ibaloi language is closely related to the Pangasinan language, primarily spoken in the province of Pangasinan, located southwest of Benguet.

Baguio City, the major city of the Cordillera, dubbed the “Summer Capital of the Philippines,” is located in southern Benguet.

The Ibaloi’ major feast is the Pesshet, a public feast mainly sponsored by people of prestige and wealth. The Pesshet feast can last for weeks and involves the butchering and sacrifice of dozens of animals. One of the more popular dances of the Ibaloi is the Bendiyan Dance, participated in by hundreds of male and female dancers.

The Itneg

The Isneg (or Apayao) inhabit the banks of the Apayao River and its tributaries in Northern Luzon. Like most erstwhile headhunters, they are slash-and-burn farmers who have recently, under the influence of their neighbors, begun to practice wet-rice agriculture.

As a dry rice farmer, the male head of a household annually clears a fresh section of tropical forest where his wife will plant and harvest their rice. Itneg women also cook the meals, gather wild vegetables and weave bamboo mats and baskets, while the men cut timber, build houses and take extended hunting and fishing trips. Often when a wild pig or deer is killed, its meat is skewered on bamboo and distributed to neighbors and relatives. Nearly all Itneg households also harvest a small grove of coffee trees since the main cash crop of the area is coffee.

The Isneg speak the Isnag language.

The Kalinga

Inhabiting the drainage areas of the middle Chico River in the Kalinga Province, the Kalingas are noted for their strong sense of tribal awareness and the peace pacts they have made among themselves. The speak the Kalinga and Limos languages. They practice both wet and dry rice farming and have developed an institution of peace pacts which has minimized traditional warfare and headhunting and serves as a mechanism for the initiation, maintenance, renewal and reinforcement of kinship and social ties. The Kalinga are divided into Southern and Northern groups; the latter is considered the most heavily-ornamented people of the northern Philippines.

Kalinga society is very kinship-oriented and relatives are held responsible for avenging any injury done to a member. Disputes are usually settled by the regional leaders, who listen to all sides and then impose fines on the guilty party. These are not formal council meetings, but carry a good deal of authority. A system of peace pacts called Bodong.

Kalingas are also known as Limos or Limos-Liwan Kalinga.

The Kankanaey

The Kankanaey’s domain includes Western Mountain Province, Northern Benguet, Southeastern Ilocos Sur. Like most Igorot ethnic groups, the Kankanaey built sloping terraces to maximize farm space in the rugged terrain of the Cordilleras. Kankaney’s of Western Mountain Province from the municipalities of Sagada and Besao identify themselves as part of a tribe called Applai or Aplai. Two famous institutions of the Kankanaey of Mountain Province are the dap-ay, the men’s dormitory and civic center, and the ebgan, the girls’ dormitory where courtship between young men and women took place.

The Kankanaey differ in the way they dress. The women soft-speaking Kankanaey’s dress has a color combination of black, white and red. The design of the upper attire is a criss-crossed style of black, white and red colors. The skirt or tapis is a combination of stripes of black, white and red. The women hard-speaking Kankanaey’s dress is composed of mainly red and black with a little white styles, as for the skirt or tapis which is mostly called bakget and gateng. The men wore a g-string as it is called but it is mainly known as wanes for the Kanakaney’s of Besao and Sagada. The design of the wanes as they[who?] call it may vary according to social status or municipality.

Kankanaey’s major dances include tayaw, pattong, takik, a wedding dance, and balangbang.The tayaw is a community dance that is usually done in weddings it maybe also danced by the Ibaloi but has a different style.. Pattong, also a community dance from Mountain Province which every municipality has its own style. Balangbang is the modernized word for the word Pattong. There are also some other dance that the Kankanaey’s dance like the sakkuting, pinanyuan(wedding dance)and bogi-bogi(courtship dance). Kankanaey houses are built like the other Igorot houses, which reflect their social status.

The name Kankanaey came from the language which they speak. The only difference among the Kankanaey are the way they speak like intonation and the usage of some words. In intonation, there is a hard Kankanaey or Applai and soft Kankanaey. Speakers of hard Kankanaey are from Sagada, Besao and the surrounding parts or barrios of the said two municipalities. They speak Kankanaey hard in intonation where they differ in some words from the soft-speaking Kankanaey. While the soft speaking Kankanaey comes from Northern Benguet, some parts of Benguet, and from the municipalities of Sabangan, Tadian and Bauko from Mountain Province. In words for example an Applai might say otik or beteg (pig) and the soft-speaking Kankanaey may say busaang or beteg as well. The Kankanaey may also differ in some words like egay or aga, maid or maga. They also differ in their ways of life and sometimes in culture.

The Kankanaey are identified by the language they speak and the province form where they come. Kankanaey people from Mountain Province may call the Kankanaey from Benguet as Ibenget because they come from Benguet. Likewise, the Kankanaey of Benguet may call their fellow Kankanaey from Mountain Province Ibontok.

 

 

Political map of the Cordillera Administrative Region